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The Lighthouse Road

(Eide Family #1)

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  1,416 ratings  ·  261 reviews
Against the wilds of sea and wood, a young immigrant woman settles into life outside Duluth in the 1890s, still shocked at finding herself alone in a new country, abandoned and adrift; in the early 1920s, her orphan son, now grown, falls in love with the one woman he shouldn’t and uses his best skills to build them their own small ark to escape. But their pasts travel with ...more
Hardcover, 293 pages
Published October 2nd 2012 by Unbridled Books
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Average rating 3.67  · 
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Feb 25, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having lived all but two of my 65 years in Minnesota, I love discovering more writers from my home state. When a friend loaned me Peter Geye’s Wintering , I was fascinated. Here we are in the throes of a February winter to behold, and I was ready to dig in! Then I realized I could get the first book, The Lighthouse Road , on “Libby” from the public library. It can be helpful to know the background of the characters in a series, dontcha know?

Geye’s story is set in northeastern Minnesota,
ἀρχαῖος (arkhaîos)
It could have been four stars but there were problems.

First, I need to say that the book is well structured and the story was gripping. The development of the plot was excellent through numerous jumps through time from chapter to chapter. So what were the problems.

Simply put, the writing itself was lacking. As friend Joseph subtly points out in his review of the book, author Peter Geye has trouble keeping a secret. He feels the need to tell the reader what's going to happen before it happens.
Oct 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I have mentioned in the past that I am too literal a reader for literary books but every now and then I am offered one that strikes my fancy and I take a chance. The Lighthouse Road was one of those books and I was very glad that I did decide to read it. It made me think and I am finding that more often than not I want a book that makes me think. That doesn't mean I don't enjoy fluff but one cannot live on a diet of sugary sweets alone now, can one?

This book is more about relationships and the
Sep 12, 2015 rated it it was ok
When you travel down The Lighthouse Road note the caution signs. 'Warning, slight turn ahead', 'Slight bump in 1/2 a mile', 'A light touch of uneven pavement'; that sort of thing. You might doubt the need for these warnings, what with the limited traffic, low speed limit and lack of recorded accidents, but why not include an advisory heads-up?

Because you can't warn motorists (or readers) enough, even in a light, turn-of-the-century novel about hard-working folk in the cold American north. For
Laura (booksnob)
Mar 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literature, 2013
A journey across the ocean,
A young woman on her own,
A stark wilderness in northern Minnesota
in 1896.

Gunflint Trail.
The beginning of a small town, Grand Marias.
The Lighthouse Road.

A logging camp in the deep woods,
an apothecary in town
a fish house on Lake Superior.

Dogs. Wolves. Bears.
Oh boy.

Thea alone, pregnant, lost.
Rebekah found, transformed, hidden.
Hosea inventive, wealthy, deceptive.
Odd, hardworking, misunderstood, loved.

A motherless child.
An incestuous affair.

Boat building.
May 24, 2012 rated it did not like it
Without the constant juggling of the timeline this book would have been a better read. Moving from Odd's birth through his life in flashforwards and flashbacks meant the narrative thread was often confused - what age was he? where was he living? what was going on? The prose also was erratic, ranging from beautifully sparse to nearly Melville-esque detail (as when Odd bought tools to finish his keel). Again, that's jarring for a reader.

Sadly, as much as I would have enjoyed reading about the
In 1896 a young Norwegian immigrant woman dies shortly after giving birth in a small town in the northern wilderness of Minnesota. 25 years later her surviving son will discover the truth surrounding his mother's death - a truth that has been shaping his life and destiny - a truth that will destroy everything he believes about those he loves.

I became a huge fan of Peter Geye when I read Safe From the Sea last July. In The Lighthouse Road Geye once again displays his talent for creating
Nov 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
Peter Geye's 'Lighthouse Road' has been on my 'to-read' list since giving away a box of free copies to random strangers on 'World Book Night' a year ago. An experience that is always surprising and interesting, I look forward to the books that are chosen each year and the chance to do a little shilling for literacy. Giving away free books isn't the easy 'slam dunk' it would seem to be though. I was asked to leave a shopping mall for 'unlicensed solicitation' by the mall cop - what, the books are ...more
Nov 17, 2012 rated it did not like it
I thought the book The Lighthouse Road by Peter Geye would be a good book to read since I enjoy reading historical fiction and the book cover appealed to me. I didn't even finish reading it because the writing style was too difficult. The author goes back and forth in time frequently---sometimes I find that adds to the interest of the book---but not in this case. Sometimes the author leaped ahead and sometimes back in time---the transitions were just too difficult to follow. I found the writing ...more
Erika Robuck
Nov 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Set in the 1920s and the 1890s in Minnesota, THE LIGHTHOUSE ROAD is the multi-generational story of a town of immigrants, orphans, and outcasts trying to make good lives against tough odds in the unforgiving wilds of a young country.

Thea is alone, pregnant, and scared until she finds love in her newborn son Odd (pronounced ‘Ode.’) Rebekah sells a piece of her soul for a place in the world, but can’t resist the lure of personal happiness. Hosea’s pride and intelligence fool him into believing he
Feb 08, 2014 rated it it was ok
I read this as part of the World Book Night Challenge. It was a story told in different times - of a young woman newly immigrated to the US from Norway in the 1890s and of her son, over 20 years later. It involves some discussion about boat building, not something that interests me or that I know anything about, but this wasn't a large part of the story. But I just never really got very caught up in the story.

I didn't feel very invested in the characters, although I was more interested in the
Aug 23, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: first-reads
Lives of quiet desperation in cold, harsh Minnesota in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Four sad, depressing characters have their stories slowly revealed as the author takes the reader back and forth from the 1890s and the 1920s. There is a claustrophobic feel to the book as the characters struggle to live within very restricted geographical and emotional boundaries. Definitely atmospheric,moody and haunting. I received the book as a Goodreads giveaway, but try as might, I just couldn't ...more
Nov 09, 2012 rated it liked it
A blurb on the cover of this book refers to it as "A cinematic thundercloud gusting across the northern landscape". I don't know, but to me it just seemed, to use the same metaphor, as a lowlaying dark cloud that meandered through the sky. In other words, pretty boring. I am usually drawn to Minnesota authors and those that write of Minnesota landscapes and people. But I couldn't wrap around any of these characters. There were no big surpises, no gasps of disbelief, no realizing that I didn't ...more
Jennifer Spiegel
Apr 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: five-star-books
I feel like gushing, letting the clichés unleash in a flood of unholy praise. Using “unleash” like that? Cliché?

This was a great book. I loved it. First, the setting is novel. As a city girl who (tragically, inevitably) lives in the desert, I found myself wide-eyed and dazzled by Peter Geye’s snowy wilderness in the Midwest. Boats! Apothecaries! People named Hosea and Odd! A fish house! What’s a fish house?

But it’s the story, which is ultimately about survivors. People who make it. Though there
Laura de Leon
Jul 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
I found The Lighthouse Road to be an unusual, compelling book, with a setting that grabbed my attention and characters that made me think.

The best parts of this book for me were the characters of Odd and his mother, Thea. Odd's an unusual man with an unusual life, and that's fine. He'll do what needs to be done, but he'll put his own spin on it.

His mother's story was even more compelling. Thea left behind everything she knew to come to America. Unfortunately, she did not arrive to see the
Sep 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-stars
A most excellent 5 star read
Leif Enger said it best..."The Lighthouse Road is like a cinematic thundercloud gusting across the northern landscape"
I very much wanted to read this book as it is set very close to where I live and I love nothing more than to read about places that I have lived.

Like a snowstorm seen in the distance rolling along the land this book starts out slowly, letting you get to know the characters and the landscape, as the words drift around in your head you become enmeshed
Melissa Klug
Dec 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012
I was introduced to Peter Geye's first book, SAFE FROM THE SEA, a couple of years ago and immediately fell in love with the story of an estranged father and son, set on the stark shores of rural Minnesota. I was thrilled that he had a new book (and I'm fairly obsessed with the books from his publisher, Unbridled--they always work for me, period.) THE LIGHTHOUSE ROAD is another story featuring the wild terrain of the state I now call home--back in the late 19th and early 20th century. Like SAFE ...more
Michele Yates
May 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
There are books you pick up and read when you have a moment here and there. And then there are books that beg to be anticipated and planned for. You can't wait to get to it, but you plan for a large block of quiet time, find your favorite reading nook, and block out everything else so you can savor every sentence. The Lighthouse Road is such a book.

Themes of family, abandonment, betrayal, immigration, wilderness. In particular, Peter Geye is masterful in creating very real characters and
Jul 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
Peter Geye successfully weaves three timelines (late 1800s and early 1900s) and four distinct characters to tell the story of a family of sorts in a small town perched on the edge of Lake Superior. Most of the novel hinges on one-eyed Odd, an orphan, and the people who care for him, or try to. There is lots of trouble in this story, wolves and illness and pervasive melancholy, but people cluster together to fight against the dangers of animals and weather, as well as the internal forces that ...more
Feb 10, 2013 rated it it was ok
I was rather disappointed in this book. I bought it while visiting Bayfield, WI. The local bookstore had it on display because it was about Lake Superior. The book started out good, but the ending left me disappointed. And since that is the last feeling I had about the book, my overall rating is low.
Benjamin Percy
Feb 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Peter Geye writes with the mesmerizing power of the snowstorms that so often come howling off Lake Superior. I am in awe of how he swirls through so many years and juggles so many characters, all of them unforgettable and weighed down by secrets and regrets and desires that burn through the hoarfrost of Geye's bristling sentences.
Feb 24, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
3.5 stars

It was a little slow and depressing, but I liked it overall. I bought Wintering without realizing that it was the second in a series, so I had to read this first. I was drawn to the series because it takes place in Minnesota and the characters are Norwegian immigrants or of Norwegian heritage.
Marie Zhuikov
Mar 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I read Peter Geye’s other book, “Safe from the Sea,” and I liked it, so I thought I would like this one. It did not disappoint. I’m not going to get into the plot (you can read that in the book’s description on this site) but I will tell you what I liked and what gave me pause.

The storytelling in this novel is wonderful. Event the “bad guy,” Hosea Grimm, is crafted with a complexity of character that shows the author’s deep understanding of human nature. The same goes for another potentially
Aug 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
The Short of It:

Geye has hit it out of the park again.

The Rest of It:

The story begins in the late 1890′s at a Minnesota logging camp. Thea Eide, an immigrant from Norway lands herself a position as a cook and after being raped by a visitor of the camp, finds herself pregnant with few prospects for raising the child. Hosea Grimm, who runs the apothecary and functions as the village doctor, gives her a place to stay and promises to help her with the child. Rebekah Grimm, also “saved” by Hosea
May 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely adored Peter Geye's first book Safe From the Sea. It was a wonderful father/son book. If you haven't read that one yet, I highly recommend it.

The Lighthouse Road was a little different. It was a historical novel set in two different time periods. One storyline followed Odd and his life in the 1920s. The other followed his mother, Thea Eide, in the 1890s and what it took for her to get from her home country to Lake Superior. Through flashbacks and memories we learn about the tragic
Margie Nash
Nov 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is a very interesting and unique book set in northern Minnesota on Lake Superior mostly in the winter. It begins in Nov. in 1896 with a young, innocent Norwegian immigrant, Thea, victim of a rape after she arrives, and now gives birth to a son, Odd. The aunt meant to greet her died, and the uncle was mentally unstable, so she was on her own--not speaking English. The story shifts back and forth between 1896 and 1920 as Odd becomes a young man,a skilled boat maker and fisherman. It's about ...more
Rob Slaven
Feb 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Like many of my recent submissions this was a GoodReads giveaway. Unlike many of my recent submissions this book is wonderfully and carefully crafted not only in language but also in storyline.

Previous reviewers have complained that the timelines in this book are too complexly intertwined and hard to follow and while I will admit that there is a lot going on, the book very handily states the month and date of each chapter in the page heading. Any reader finding themselves confused can merely
Oct 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
The Lighthouse Road by Peter Geye feels like the frozen tundra and the heat of the tropics all at once as his eccentric characters hack their lives out of the wilderness outside Duluth, Minn., between the 1890s and 1920s in Gunflint. Odd is a young fisherman with his own small boat, whose mother died soon after he was born. Raised by the local apothecary owner, Hosea Grimm alongside his daughter Rebekah, Odd strives to make his market in the rough-around-the-edges town.

Geye’s narration shifts
May 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I really like when an author can combine different time periods and stay consistent and "fill in the blanks" of the story as we drift along. Peter Geye does a magnificent job with this style of writing in The Lighthouse Road: A Novel. Odd's story was perfectly communicated even though we went from birth to adult to teen back to before his birth, etc. and it was never confusing. The prose and narrative ranks right up there with the best of them. Heart breaking, then mended and then broken again. ...more
Jul 11, 2018 rated it liked it
(Three and a half stars) At the start I had trouble with the jumping between different time periods (1896, 1920, 1893, 1910, 1895, 1907...). Because of this it took me a while to really get into the story. I enjoy reading books about Minnesota and he does a good job of setting the scene and the feel of living on Lake Superior. I visited a recreated lumber camp last summer so I could really visualize the time the young Norwegian woman Thea spent as a cook for the lumberjacks. She was a young ...more
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Peter Geye received his MFA from the University of New Orleans and his PHD from Western Michigan University, where he was editor of Third Coast. He was born and raised in Minneapolis and continues to live there with his wife and three children.

Other books in the series

Eide Family (2 books)
  • Wintering (Eide Family, #2)
“Someday your child will be full of wants. What they'll want more than anything, whether they know it or not, is for you to cherish them.” 1 likes
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